Frankie – Back to the Bobby Valentine Sport show. I’m your host Frank Rampen, and I’m here with my dad, Frank Ramppen III. I’m Frank Ramppen IV, as you can tell. So today, we’re going to do a little bit of a different type of episode here. We’re going to do kind of a recap of when this account pops up on your feed. You see me talking about sports, you see me sitting here yelling, watching Shohei almost hit a home run, freaking out, and then you see Bobby Valentine at the top, and you’re wondering, who is this kid? Why is his name Bobby Valentine out there? Why is this? So today, me and my Dad, we’re going to go over the story of how we are connected to Bobby Valentine, and we’re going to go over the whole story of that.
Frank – So, okay, let’s start with our real names. Yes, I’m actually Francis Ellsworth Anthony Ramppen III, and unfortunately, he is Francis Ellsworth Anthony Ramppen IV. Almost didn’t want to do that to him, wasn’t going to keep the tradition alive and name him the fourth, but my wife Michelle when she was pregnant, she was in the what was called the breach position, upside down, and like a week before her due date, they said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to have to have a caesarean because he’s in the Frank breech position.’ So I had to do it to the kids. Sorry about that.
Frankie – Hey, it’s okay, it’s all right.
Frank – So the Bobby V story, yeah. So let’s get into it. Let’s start from the very beginning. We’re going to talk about when you were younger, getting out of high school, trying to become a college athlete, and just talk about your first interactions with Bobby and how you ended up meeting him. We both grew up in Stamford, and we both went to Rippowam High School. Bobby’s nine years older than me, and I had never met him. I went off to the University of Tampa to play baseball after my junior year. I was told I was getting drafted, and I had no idea what that meant. My parents knew nothing about sports. So I went to my summer league coach, Bob Kennedy, who was the sports editor of the Stamford Advocate at the time, and his dad was the ex-commissioner of the NBA. Do you know that? Yeah, he did not know that. I said, ‘Hey, Skip, you know, they’re telling me I might get drafted. I don’t know how that happened. You know how that happens.’ He goes, ‘Uh, go ask Bobby V.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know Bobby V. He’s the legend of our town. You know, I’ve known all of what he’s done and accomplished, and I didn’t know who he was.’ He goes, ‘I was just up Bobby, fifth overall pick out of high school out of Rippowam High School.’ Just to keep that into context, fifth. Unbelievable part of that legendary atmosphere around Bobby and recruited for the Collegiate and major league in NFL for baseball and football. I mean, you go to his restaurants, and that’s part of this whole story, and the letters on the wall of his recruiting process were absolutely unbelievable.
So, you know, Bob Kennedy tells me, ‘Go see Bobby Valentine.’ I don’t know Bobby Valentine. You know, a little intimidating. He’s a man, he’s a star. He goes, ‘Ah, he’s a great guy, blah, blah, hey, bro.’ He was just up at, it’s called, it’s not a high school anymore, but it was Trinity Catholic for the last bunch of years. It’s called Catholic High. He was up at a Catholic High baseball game. So I go wandering up there. I’m 20 years old at the time. I go wandering up. I know what he looks like, and I see him, and he’s got, of course, a bunch of people around him as always. I go up to him, and I say, ‘Hey, Bob, I’m Frank Ramppen.’ He goes, ‘Hey, hey, you know, Bobby’s charismatically, I know who you are. How you doing?’ And we, the two of us, still don’t know this story, but he got a piece of paper with my name written on it in his hand. Now, Bob Kennedy didn’t call him because there were no cell phones back then. It was the horse and muggage. This was the 1980s. There were no cell phones. Neither one of us understands that. But for some reason, he had my name written down and introduced myself. We talked for a couple seconds. I told him I was hoping to get drafted, and he, yeah, all excited. Bobby’s such a charismatic individual, as you know. I just asked him how the whole thing works, and he took me under his wing like a brother from that point on. That’s 43 years ago, and I’ve had a journey with him. And now, your experience in that journey and have been with Bobby V, and it’s been amazing. And I mean to complete that portion of it, he told me at the time, you know, now you watch it on TV. Back then, you get a telegram, really, a Western Union Telegram. So he says if you get drafted, you get notified by a Western Union Telegram, and a few days later, I go to the mailbox, and there it is from the Minnesota Twins that I got drafted. I remember, nobody was with me. I went jumping around all over the front lawn, and my mother was, ‘What are you, what are you doing?’ So I got drafted, and blah, blah, blah. So I notified Bobby that I got drafted. Congratulations, the whole deal. The big scout from the area, Herb Stein, came to our house to sign me, and he was actually the same person who signed Rod Carew.
Frankie – Oh, really?
Frank – Yeah, which there’s another little Rod Carew story there. I’ll get to that. So he comes to my house. It’s me and my mom. I think my sister was there, and Bobby and her were sitting there, and we’re talking about the whole thing. I got drafted in the 30th round. You know, there’s not a lot of money at that late round, and there wasn’t as much money in baseball, 30th round anymore. Yeah, and it’s not even a thing. Right? There was only 20 this year, and a couple years ago, what, they’re only six or something. I think there’s only ten. So this was funny. They offered me a $2500 signing bonus, and I’m sitting over there. My mom’s over there, and Bobby’s sitting right here, going like this, waving for me to ask for five, which I did, and they gave it to me, actually. So I have to make a decision at this point whether I’m gonna sign professionally to go play for the Minnesota Twins or go back for my senior year of college. So Bobby and I take a long walk down K-More street, and we’re talking about the pros and cons of the whole situation. You know, he’s giving me every bit of insight that he has from his life’s experience, and which was unbelievable. And we go back home, and I signed and became a Minnesota Twin that day. And then that night, Bobby invites me and my family down to Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe, which I ended up working, which is more part of the story. Legendary sports bar in Stamford, which had just opened a few months earlier, and we go down there. The place is packed, and he gets on the microphone. ‘Hey, I want to tell everybody, local guy Frank Ramppen gets drafted by the Minnesota Twins,’ and champagne and everything and picked up our tab. And it was just an amazing night, an amazing memory, but Bobby V was all over that thing. And that’s where it all began. 40, actually, the draft was, I think, was July 6th, so almost, you know, a couple of weeks away from 43 years.
Frankie – Wow, yeah, that’s crazy. Pretty, pretty cool story there with, with Bobby. That’s really the first real Bobby story that you have him being there the whole time for that. That’s really cool. Yeah, so then you get drafted, you play for the Minnesota Twins in the minor leagues for, well, how many years? For four years, and then after that, you stay down in Florida for a couple of years and then end up coming back here and reconnect with Bobby.
Frank – Yeah, but the story, the connection happens before. So while I’m playing, I’m taking classes at Sacred Heart because I didn’t graduate. So I’m taking classes and trying to make some money. I look in the newspaper, the Stamford Advocate, and I see an ad for a bartender wanted at Bobby Valentine’s. So I call up, and Bobby answers the phone, which is kind of unusual. And he says, ‘Hey, Bobby, it’s Frank Ramp. Hey, Bob. We’d stayed in touch through my playing days. I think he got, we actually hit a couple times in the off-season. Um, and how you doing? Blah, blah, blah.’ He said, ‘Hey, I see you got an ad in the paper for a bartender.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you know how to bartend.’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Come on down.’ So, I go down to the place, and he basically, he and I sat there behind the bar, leaned against the bar, up against the beer cooler at the end of the bar, and he was talking to me about stuff and showing me some ins and outs. And the next night, I’m bartending up, Bobby V’s this hopping place, which I ended up running when, like you said, when my career ended. I stayed down in Florida for a couple of years, living with my buddy Lou.
For more from Frank on his history with Bobby Valentine click the video below!